The Convivial Society: Dispatch, No. 8
So good! I love your point about “liturgies or consumption.” You’ve probably seen my twitter posts about the philosophy of liturgy this spring. That phrase struck me as very apt.
Excellent, and thought-provoking, read for me a father of a newborn and a 2-year old. Thank you very much for sharing it.
Sage advice for my own habits, too, I'd say. This is the first I recall seeing you reference Harrison, but as a longtime reader/listener of you both, kudos. I've noticed many common causes over the years. His tone is hyperbolic, but it's a stylistic response that he's in on, definitely. I find I look forward to his monologues more than the interviews now.
A small quibble with this sentiment:
"For a long time, I was hesitant to address these sorts of questions because I wasn’t a parent myself, and I had enough good sense to know that it was best not to opine on how to raise children if you didn’t have some firsthand experience."
Your hesitancy is probably 9/10 wisdom I'm lacking, and counseling humility here is sound given the surfeit of opinions on the subject, but...those of us who do not or have chosen not to have kids invariably were kids at one time, with some experience of childhood and parents (or their absence). Raising other humans undoubtedly brings many other, unique perspectives, but surely there are intersections.
If I can get away with suggesting that, today, "bonds" are loosening while "connections" are multiplying, then any attempt at "conversation" (say, communication + autonomy) must recognize the influences and responsibilities that are part and parcel of a shared culture. To paraphrase Habermas, there can only be participants. I'm prepared to accept that this now seems quaint, or fruitless and misguided (you recently drew on Lyotard, who certainly thinks that), but I've yet to be convinced that emphasizing the incompatibility of discourses/language games gets us any further.
Thanks for tackling this prickly subject. These are some excellent guidelines which are helpful in thinking through my own use of tech.
Like everyone else, we've muddling through the parenting as best we can. Whether this was a good decision or not, time will tell, but we've managed to get our kids mostly through high school without smartphones and with limited social media. In the beginning there was a fair bit of griping, but the norm is established now. I'd like to think the kids have been able to cultivate some better social skills as a result, but that's hard to evaluate. One unexpected consequence is that the kids are now pretty judgmental about their peers who "spend all their time on the phone." One vice exchanged for another.
Can’t fault any of that. I’m just grateful that when bringing up our 3 children we only had tv and vcrs to contend with. 3 things I would add, two learned from their mother - the importance of structure and routine ( they always knew that, whenever possible, teatime was at 6, followed by bath, followed by a bedtime story - even on a long car journey, their mother would create a sort of simulacrum of that basic pattern), boundaries clear and maintained - 7 pm was bedtime, and private time for the adults, for example - and finally risk (my contribution although I must give their mother full credit for allowing me to do it) - from the earliest age give them the chance to learn by doing, failing, trying again. Be there at the beginning to prevent death or serious injury, but as soon as you can let them truly do it on their own, which is the only way they can really learn to assess risk and act (relatively) safely. If they always think you’re there to pull them back from the edge, they’ll never really learn what fear is for.